Palestinian activist feared for life before being gunned down in east J'lem refugee camp

"More than once he told me his life was in danger because camp residents accused him of being a collaborator with the Israeli government for trying to improve conditions there," says Margalit.

A section of the controversial security barrier beneath the refugee camp of Shuafat (photo credit: REUTERS)
A section of the controversial security barrier beneath the refugee camp of Shuafat
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian activist from east Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, who was shot dead in a hail of bullets on Monday night, feared for his life for working with Israeli officials to improve living conditions in the beleaguered community, the former east Jerusalem portfolio head said on Wednesday.
Baha Nabata, 31, a well-regarded civil rights and youth-group leader, was shot seven times in the camp at approximately 11:30 PM by an assailant who fired 10 bullets at him before fleeing the scene on a motor bike, according to witnesses.
An investigation has been opened to find the killer, police said.
Former Meretz councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who held the east Jerusalem portfolio and worked closely with Nabata to improve his community’s infrastructure, said that during their last conversation several weeks ago, the married father of two daughters said he feared for his life.
“More than once he told me that people in the refugee camp accused him of being a collaborator with Israel,” said Margalit by phone on Wednesday. “That was because in order to solve the problems in the camp, he had to be in contact with the Jerusalem Municipality, the police, Interior Ministry, and other different Israeli institutions.”
“There was no other way to address the problems in this camp without being in touch with the Israeli government,” continued Margalit, who was shaken by the news of Nabata’s violent death.
Margalit said Nabata told him on numerous occasions that he was repeatedly accused of being a traitor for his efforts.
“He was a very realistic, pragmatic guy,” he said. “He was very much involved in his community, and he really cared about the future of the young generation living in the camp.”
Margalit noted that his murder sends a clear warning to all Palestinians working with Israelis.
“It’s terrible, but I guess that the type of message to all Palestinians who work with Israel is stop doing it, or you will end up like Nabata,” he lamented.
Nabata’s numerous accomplishments included paving the camp’s roads, setting up emergency medical services for residents, and training firefighters with help from the Jerusalem Fire Department.
He also led a youth group in the adjacent Palestinian neighborhood of Ras Shehada.
Since being separated by the capital’s security fence following the second intifada, living conditions in the Shuafat refugee camp have deteriorated exponentially.